Peter Boizot, one of the founding fathers of the casual dining scene and the creator of Pizza Express, has died aged 89.
Mr Boizot’s vision of a pizzeria business back in 1965 led to the development of one of the most famous and successful chains on the high street, with more than 500 branches in the UK and abroad.
It was a life-changing trip between school and joining the army to be an au pair for a family in Florence, Italy that set Mr Boizot on his way to success. There he discovered his love of pizza and decided to launch a restaurant business.
Only last week his work was honoured at the Papa Awards for the Italian food industry, where he was awarded the ‘outstanding contribution’ prize.
In a statement last night, Pizza Express paid tribute to its founder: “It is with sadness that we share the news that our founder, Peter Boizot, has passed away. Peter’s spirit and passion for good food and good times will live on, and we will continue to carry forward his legacy through the people and culture of our business. We will miss him dearly.”
Earlier this year, Pizza Express’ UK managing director, Zoe Bowley, described how Boizot was a true pioneer of his time.
She said that he brought pizza chefs back from Italy and dealt with suppliers personally – some of which it still works with today.
He even recognised the importance of using authentic equipment and regarded it as an integral part of the business, she added.
“He knocked down walls in restaurants to bring the right pizza oven back to this country to create the right handcrafted unique pizza. And he had such a spirit of generosity. He is the reason that Pizza Express has got the heritage that it has got, he created the legacy and from this one restaurant on Wardour Street he created a formidable brand.”